Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding.

I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop...
It was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

" Son of St Louis ascend to Heaven"

Whether he had said "Son of St Louis ascend to Heaven" to King Louis XVI on the scaffold was something the Abbé Edgeworth could not recall afterwards such was his own fraught state, but it is one of those things which if it was not said ought to have been.

The phrase links the King to his illustrious and sainted ancestor and to the whole tradition of French sacral kingship which was being killed in the person of King Louis XVI on this day in 1793. Both in destroying the traditional institutions of governance and in destroying the man who was King the revolutionaries perpetrated a great act of injustice not only to a decent man who had sought to fulfill his obligations as monarch in an ever more difficult situation surrounded by mounting horrors - and therein lies his and his family's martyrdom - but also to the whole of the French people by depriving them of their corporate inheritance and means of self definition.


The farewell of King Louis XVI to his family in the Temple on the evening of January 20 1793

Image:catherine delours.blog

Whatever the need for genuine reform and renewal within the French system the onslaught on Throne and Altar, the deliberate seeking of the destruction of all that had been handed down - even to the ridiculous calendric reforms - went infinitely beyond what was required into a world of barbarism, insanity, and only partially rescued by a parvenu military dictatorship under the Corsican ogre. Bernard Fay concluded his biography of the King by saying that France has been morning ever since the moment the guillotine cut off his head. A powerful image which has remained with me. Once out of its bottle the genie of revolt and revolution and their vapid and spurious ideals has, alas, remained within the French political process - hence all the disorders since 1830 when the restored monarchy was overthrown.

To see this in action just observe the antics we shall find ourselves watching in the forthcoming "French Presidential Election." Admit it, you know I'm right.

My posts from last year can be read at King Louis XVI and The Orders worn by King Louis XVI.

I also commend to you this Prayer for the King of France.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I think you meant "Bernard Fay concluded his biography of the King by saying that France has been mourning ever since the moment the guillotine cut off his head'...

    Excelent article. I deleted the previous comment because I had written 'mean' instead of 'meant'...

  3. History has a price and both sides experienced extreme cruelty. For many years, the French monarchy refused to be concerned with the plight of French citizens starving to death. Due to its indifference, this monarch should have lost the power to govern and rule. However, the horrors from both sides cannot be justified. Even a descendant of a saint should not be allowed to rule if that monarch cannot even empathize with or provide solutions for his people. Those are sins on a vast scale, as well, and the insane reforms demonstrate that citizens will respond with either perceived or equivalent actions. Entitlement of wealth and power inflicting abuse on others either by action or non-action will eventually cause a like response. The more horrible the response depends on how long the abuse is allowed to go on. Balance is much more difficult to maintain, but necessary. If all of mankind can understand the price of history, revolutions and wars would not arise. I do not agree with Fleming that France has been mourning this king ever since the moment the guillotine decapitated Louis XVI, which is much more humane than starvation. I seriously doubt the French people give it much thought at all today and most in Louis' time were more excited and hopeful for the equality of mankind.

    1. Meant to say above that I do not agree entirely with Fay regarding his statement of France mournng King Louis XVI. I had Fleming on my mind......

    2. Au contraire, M. "Anonymous",
      There is a significant, and growing number of French people today eager to know the ugly truth of The Revolution. "...the French monarchy refused to be concerned with the plight of French citizens starving to death...."? I don't know what history books you've been reading, but Secher's meticulously well documented book, A French Genocide puts the lie to the 200 year old canard that the Bourbons were despised by the French people. Although poor, the peasantry of France was better off in 1789 than most of the rest of Europe. The Eldest Daughter of the Church was in dire financial straights, but this was not due to the extravagance of the King or his wife...but to a little thing called The American Revolution. For the success of which, we Americans owe a huge debt of gratitude to that unjustly executed King. Let's be honest: The French Revolution, The September Massacres, The Reign of Terror, The Genocide in The Vendee, the countless unspeakable atrocities perpetrated in the name of "Liberte, Egalite, and Fraternite" against those faithful to The Church and the King were not a Just revolt of the oppressed masses, but rather an orchestrated coup by a small group of very evil men.